Full moon

The headlamp was fading anyway, so I turned it off and let my eyes adjust on the dogs’ dark shadows. The moonlight soaked into my skin and brought something out of me that had been hiding all summer, like the sun coaxes blossoms from tight-lipped buds. I sighed and watched the bright, white mountains roll by beside us. To the north, a shimmer of green began to ooze from dark blue twilight. We had been downtrodden, and hooking up a dogteam for a night run after a full day of work was so unappealing. But we did it anyway. Can you believe we would have missed this?
We made the sharp left turn onto our exit trail and the thick forest darkened around the team. I thoughtlessly slid the sled around one tree and then another. Jealous announcements from the rest of the dogs heralded our arrival home, and as we put everyone back on their houses our movements slowed down to halftime. Our eyes were lifted and mesmerized by pulsing, intertwined ropes of green that swirled around each other and spiraled down onto the ridgeline behind the house. The aurora became a fine-toothed comb. The aurora became a cyclone.
The fish stew boiled and steam met the night air in a puff of white. The cabin lights burned amber from the windows. We stood on the edge of disbelief, and also on the edge of Panguingue Creek. What kind of a thing is that, where you look upon the very feeling in your heart? A thrumming, living fullness. And there it was, lighting up the sky.

Turning leaves

Pink light reflected off Andy’s face as we peered out the window, watching the sunset. A dragon-shaped cloud twisted and turned a hundred feet above the house, neon orange. Behind it, Healy Ridge was blood red with alpenglow. Our jaws hung in disbelief. Finally, after weeks of nonstop rain, grayness, colorlessness. Here was the reward. […]


Between spates of sunshine come deaths and births and more deaths while the clouds wring themselves out over and over again on our world. The milky gray torrents of glacial rivers maw their gravelly banks. Creekbeds that have remained dry for years feel unfamiliar water crawling over their backs, while inchoate waterways experience the gravid […]

Thrush’s call

In the Arctic, we were no bigger than a pixel. A point. A figment. The tundra vastitude so extreme that in the distance I could not tell whether I was looking at topography or weather. As much as our adventures there yearned to take on an oneiric quality, the harshness of the wind, the bitter […]

A life well lived

Twenty-eight years ago yesterday, my biological father died of a heart attack. The one memory I have of him is surprisingly vivid: I am perched atop his shoulders and ducking under doorways, spinning on his 6′ 6″ frame in a yellow swirl of dandelions in the backyard. Anything else I know of him is from […]

Natural light

The dogs’ coats were unlikely camouflage in the autumn tundra. Andy red, Doug black and tan, Shane dark as pitch – a wolf compared to his brothers, with those yellow eyes. Their tracks interlaced and filed straight, bounced and loped, zoomed and hopped. Their speed astonished me. Their happiness painted my face with that perma-grin […]


The blood was as red as the ripened berries through which we had traipsed, and it constellated the boulders that choked the cascades and cataracts of the Sushana River headwaters. It glowed in wet, bulbous droplets, and the hollow fear of being in a bad place carved its own canyon through my very being. The […]

Old reliable

Falling in love requires a precipice. A traverse along a dangerous edge. A tinge of fear, a fistful of hope, a gravid need to take a risk. That’s what makes it exciting – its potential for utter failure. And then, people often say, once everyone knows where everyone stands, the honeymoon is over. The magic […]

On the wind

With the south wind came trouble. A scabrous tourbillion of workday problems. Somewhere in the circling debris I found something heavy enough to ground me. To stand for goodness and honesty. To speak up without fear. My husband by my side. My lead dog Solo leaning against my heart. Years ago, when Andy and I […]


In the vault of my memory, that particular atlas collected dust. Distances once yawning became shortened. Directions once instinctual became confusing or forgotten altogether, along with a few place names and altitudes. Barring those details, Montana embraced me still with its motherly calm. My mother’s scent on the pillowcase during childhood naps in her bed. […]